People do not sometimes value the joy,fellowship and support they get from members of their families until when they are kept away from these families for a long time where they can not reach out to them at will to enjoy their love.
Listening to Willie Stokes a former Gang member as he shared his story on Redemption and as a black sheep that went in and out of prisons several times
.His reasons for joining crime could be attributed to some of the failures and challenges he faced from some family members but he did not forget the love and care he got from his mother and Aunty.
It was clear from his narration that his uncle the husband of his Aunt did not treat him well and did many other unspeakable things to him and many other relations but the love and care he got from his Aunty and mother was never to be forgotten.
Another visit to Salinas Valley State Prison and the Correctional Training Facility on Tuesday where we listened to presentations by some former Gang members and also had group discussions with them furthers shows how they missed their families,especially their sons and daughters.Their desire to reconnect with their children with the hope that these family will accept them and they too will help these children to imbide good values and virtues that will keep them away from going to prisons like their fathers .
Listening to how they expressed their stories with deep emotions and remorseful, one could see the common ground in their predicament that people can go to prison not only because they come from poor families but even those from privilege families can go to prisons when they commit a crime which they see as “mistakes”.
These regrettable mistakes have kept many of them that are in prison away from their beloveth families for many years ,but the bond of love and family tide make them desire to be with these families again ,to have good times of fun ,and to assist their children by inculcating good values on them so that none of their children will ever be send to prisons in the future.These kind of love and passion to reunite with their families is encouraging them to work hard and demonstrate genuine change of attitude so that family members will accept them again to live a better life and never to go back to prisons again.
Terrorism has cause the death of many people in many part of the world. Some terror groups are known internationally while others with the same mission are operating at local level and causing the same havoc.
As I listen to Richard Rubenstein today discussing The Logic of Terrorism and fallacies of counter Terrorism my mind goes to how our leaders instead of finding ways to address terrorism, they make up rhetoric about them. Sadly these rhetoric’s do not address the pains and injuries inflicted on people.
Terrorism is violence aimed at achieving political, religious or ideological objectives. Their Attacks can be centrally directed from a structured organization or network or by individuals acting without any direct external control.
As these terror attacks continue, people now live in fear and uncertainty. Traveling to some countries today especially those that have had terrorist attacked is now no longer a fashionable thing because your family and love ones have to continue to keep vigil for you until your safe return.
Sadly all we read and hear from leaders of these nations is, the attack is barbaric, the terrorist are cowards, we vow to fight terror etc which has not in any way stop, dislodge or pursued the terrorist to stop attacking.
When will these great leaders and people of these countries take measures that will put the terrorist on the run or get them arrested before they do their evil? Some of these world leaders and citizens seems to be like presenters of major media such as CNN, BBC, Aljazeera, Sky news, ABC, to mention just a few who enjoy manipulating the stories as they present them to viewers and listeners but without solutions.
It is always sad to hear all the media want to achieve is getting ISIS or Al-Qaida and any other terrorist group to claimed responsibility. Has claiming responsibility ever bring succor to victims and their families? The truth is, Claiming responsibility is not what the victims, their family or citizens who are in danger want to know or hear.
There are many people in many parts of the world today who may have not pledge allegiance to ISIS or other terrorist group but have similar ideologies and will use any opportunity to kill or cause others harm.
I therefore submit that Leaders and the general public reaction by just calling terrorist names is not enough.
Security agencies must do their work to stop those who have acquired weapons or anything that can be used to cause people harm. Those in possession of any type of weapons must defend why they should be allowed to have or use weapons in their possessions.
The general public must also wake up to support and not just to seat and talk like some leaders do. When strange people come to your community what should you do? When you notice a suspicious person around you and in a questionable place, what will you do?
We cannot fight terrorist and win by just being rhetoric about them. They really don’t care what we say or what name we call them as long as they achieve their evil plot of killing and destroying others.
Let us join hands to stop terrorist from having their way.
If we must defeat terrorist and terrorism, everybody must do something not just saying something.
LISTEN TO THE VOICES OF VETERANS
In most developed countries Veterans are celebrated and appreciated always.
Some ways in which these nations celebrate their veterans is by having special seat from seniors on the trains and public buses.
Leaders of these country speak well of their veterans during national days and memorials.
There are other benefits that veterans get from their country which make their statues of being veteran a thing of pride and joy
During the session on Veterans for peace by Dr. Philip Butler who narrated his experience during the Vietnam War, spoke so passionately that I felled the pains of separation from a family for eight years and the pains of torture as a prisoner of war. What baffles me was why should a country with this type of history and witnesses still supports war in any form? Can’t we learn from these veterans?
It is not good enough for our Nations to make a public show of celebrating veterans when same Nations do not take the advice of these men and women to stop wars that is causing more families pains and separating love once from one another.
Veterans speak from a bitter experience and wish that nobody should pass through their type of experience.
I urge our leaders to pay more attention to the voices of our veterans, our veterans do not need our remembrance services or been honored during National days. What they want is peace in the world so that no one will ever be tortured again or become a prisoner of war.
Our world is in Disarray
People often think that what can bring destruction to them must be mightier than them. How true is this understanding?
During one of the session on A World in Disarray, facilitated by Amy Sands, participants at the 2017 Summer Peace building Program were asked to name one thing each of them feel is a threat to world peace. Their responses make me think deep and I am still pondering on how many of the things we see as good for our development are also the likely things or issues that are threatening the peace of our world today.
Science and technology has made the movement of people from one part of the earth to another very smooth but the poor management of refugees who are compel to move to other safer areas either by forceful deportation or dehumanizing them is threatening the peace of the world.
Social media that is seen to have bring people closer and make information available on our finger tips is also another threat to world peace with terrorist using it as a medium to recruit young people and how fake news and inciting messages is causing escalation of violent conflict in many parts of the world. It is sad to note that many lives and properties worth Millions to Billions of dollars have been lost due to incitement or fake news from social media.
Despite the claims from some quarters and reports from world Bank of the progress in reducing the gap between the rich and the poor, addressing the challenges of epidemics and disease, the reality is that the rich are only getting richer and the poor are still dying of diseases .Our multinational have not help in reducing the gap.
What can we say about ignorance, climate change and denials, authoritarian governments in Africa, Europe and America? Can these styles of leadership bring about peace? When we force our brand of Democracy on others and think that conducting a so called free and fair election will bring peace and reduce poverty, what do we see afterwards, more fighting, more corruption, leadership with evil ideology etc.
Trafficking in human and Arms is growing big every day. No deliberate efforts to stop or address the challenges, instead countries with serious records of terrorism are having a better Arm deal.
Is our world not in Disarray? Who will help to make this world a safe and peaceful place for us and our children to live and enjoy it?
I therefore call on peace builders, peace makers, and peace actors to come with practical ways of intervention.
REV. JOHN JOSEPH HAYAB AND SHIEKH HALLIRU MARAYA
Working for Peace in Northern Nigeria.
Nigeria being a multilingual and multi-religious country has in some years back witnessed identity-based conflicts. Presently, the northern part of the country is experiencing a scourge of identity-based conflict ranging from the Islamic fundamentalism (Boko Haram) menace in the North East and also pastoral violence in southern Kaduna which is threatening our cohesion as country.
Several identity conflicts in different parts of the country have pushed citizens to sometimes query the modalities of the very existence of the country in the context of the uneasy co-habitation of diverse people of over 250 cultures; this is a multitude of cultures in a country which had previously witnessed harmonious inter-cultural relationships for over a century. Many lives have been lost in the course of this problem and economic activities have been paralyzed in some parts of northern Nigeria. Many communities and groups that had been living harmoniously in the past have become estranged.
In an effort to promote mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence among the citizenry in Nigeria, several strategies ranging from policy implementations, national conference, compulsory national youth service, civil and communal initiatives have been incorporated to manage ethno-religious relationships among the diverse groups. Yet it has not yielded the desired result.
Kaduna which is the heartbeat of Northern Nigeria has been engaged as pilot state of “One Family Under God” campaign. The campaign has yielded evidence-based result in northern part of the state as peace is being restored in the area. Even though in some communities of southern part of the state, there is serenity because of the presence of Community Peace Promoters that were equipped with skills of promoting peaceful coexistence in line with vision of “One Family Under God”, however, other communities that are yet to be reached are experiencing crisis where lives and properties are being destroyed.
Developmental efforts have been paralyzed because of hatred, in addition to distrusts and clashes rooted in identity conflict. As a result of this carnage, Global Peace Foundation Nigeria has intensified efforts to foster unity and mutual understanding particularly in the area.
Our approach to peacebuilding
Our approach is community based; we go through the community gatekeepers particularly the traditional rulers. Global Peace Foundation Nigeria considers traditional rulers as one of the influential actors in peacebuilding process and also structurally armed to enact laws at community level to ensure mutual respect and unity hence, collaborate with them. We work together with them to further strengthen traditional system of conflict resolution and management. It is in view of the fact that traditional rulers especially in Muslims communities play a dual role i.e. traditional and religious function that makes it sustainable to win the mind of many communities in managing conflict at community level.
Engaging religious leaders at grassroots level
Global Peace Foundation Nigeria has been working assiduously in building the capacity of the local Pastors and Imams at grass-root level with a view to preach in accordance with their religious tenet based on the vision of “One Family Under God”. Today, in the communities we have reached, churches and mosques have begun to change the story by adopting a paradigm shift of preaching hate messages to fostering unity.
Deliberate facilitation and management of interaction meetings among the leaders and followers of dominant religious groups at the community level have therefore been adopted by Global Peace Foundation Nigeria to directly address a religious friction and prevent such frictions from degenerating into violence. The use of “interfaith dialogues, education and awareness” remain major features of Global Peace Foundation Nigeria, and these features are also combined with radio programs of “One Family Under God” campaign with the intent of having a wider coverage to build religious adherents in order to distract parties from the frustrations that push them towards religious violence.
The key objective of interfaith dialogue is to emphasis the similarities inherent in the religious doctrines of the various belief systems. Practically, the major religions (Christianity and Islam) in our focal communities basically preach the same central doctrine – peaceful living among different faiths to the commands of a superior being.
Mediation is one of the critical tools being deployed to resolve violence ravaging the southern Kaduna area. We have succeeded in bringing together Fulani herdsmen and natives of Southern Kaduna separately for mutual interaction in order to facilitate better understanding of each other’s position and to jointly chart the way for co-existence in an environment of mutual understanding and respect.
Neutrality and sincerity are critical factors we consider in the mediation process which must be the reason why we gained their confidence. This confidence stimulated the interest of the conflicting parties to be ready to open up and express their feelings about the kind of interactions they are expected to establish with the opposite parties.
We hope to learn from the experience of other participants in these weeks of positive interaction .